Accidental Entrepreneurs are, by nature, do-it-yourselfers. We’re self-reliant, sometimes impulsive, and often unwilling or unable to spend money on staff or contractors. But the truth is, we can’t do it all, at least not all of the time. This article can help you venture into the uncharted territory of getting help when you need it.
Don’t wait for the elves.
Get support before you think you need it. If you wait until you are completely overwhelmed, you won’t have the capacity to instruct, guide, and evaluate the help you get. Questions will feel like interruptions, and feedback will feel like criticism. What’s more, you may find yourself hiring in haste and regretting at leisure.
Take away: Use the tips in this article to experiment with getting support before you think you really need it.
A little help can go a long way. Start a list of the little things that take time, from sweeping and recycling to going to the post office or updating a mailing list. Then hire someone to do one or more of these small tasks. Freeing up even an hour a week gives you more time to be creative.
As you consider tasks you could delegate, get in the habit of chunking down your work. Do you write an ezine? Consider outsourcing proofreading or formatting for email. Yes, you will need to build in time to get the work out and back, but this will encourage you to be specific and efficient about scheduling. In addition, you’ll be freeing up time to spend on high value activities like working with clients or designing new products and services.
Spread the wealth.
As soon as you start bringing in money, share a portion of it by hiring help. Again, you can start small. Spreading the wealth underscores the fact that you are doing this thing and reinforces the connection between your success and the well being of others. That feels good and helps your business.
Turn concerns into standards.
Are you worried that you cannot pay enough to get someone’s interest? Or that you don’t know how to delegate? Turn your concerns around and make them hiring standards. For example, my first VA needed to be able to show me what tasks I could let go of because I had a wee control problem.
Make an agreement for the amount you can afford.
Don’t let a limited budget keep you from getting support. For all you know the hour or two a week that you can afford will be perfect for a busy mom or a high school student. Just be clear about your budget and make an agreement not to exceed that amount.
Ask for what you want.
Sometimes we cheat ourselves by assuming that we will have to settle for less than we want. It’s rarely true. Write down exactly what you need done and what skills are required to do it. If you hire help before you are desperate, you can take some time to get the right person.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to know more than your staff. Use your investment in support to expand your business capabilities by hiring people who know more than you do.
A good attitude and willingness to learn can be much more valuable than a resume packed with experience. Again, if you hire help before you are at your wit’s end, you can take the time to train the right person. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach someone to treat you or your clients well.
Just as most jobs are found by person-to-person contact, the best employees are found by asking for referrals and suggestions. Tell folks that you are hiring. Make it clear that you are interviewing a variety of candidates so you don’t feel obligated to hire your best friend’s cousin.
Have a no-fault probationary period.
Sometimes people just don’t fit. Having a no-fault probationary period makes letting someone go less awkward. Make your probationary period long enough to get through initial learning but short enough to minimize your investment, usually 30 to 90 days.
Set clear expectations.
Do you expect the person you hire to be available on short notice or to work extra hours as needed? Do you need them to be willing to learn new skills on the fly? Talking out expectations like these can save you both a lot of grief.
Hiring is a learning experience.
Few of us are born experts at hiring and supervising staff. Understand that you’re on a learning adventure and leave some wiggle room for mistakes and misunderstandings. One more time, if you hire help before you really need it, you’ll negotiate the learning curve more gracefully than if you wait until you are up against the wall.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com